Phelps arrives almost unnoticed

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BEIJING --- Michael Phelps nearly sneaked into Beijing without being noticed. He's unlikely to go out that way.

The probable star of the Beijing Olympics avoided hundreds of fans, photographers and reporters Monday by taking a side door out to a waiting bus while his teammates pushed luggage trolleys through the arrival gate at Beijing's new Terminal 3, a sprawling addition to the city's airport.

Phelps, who's grown a mustache while training in Singapore, eventually was spotted -- in a window seat on the team bus -- by dozens of reporters and photographers. He ignored most of the cameras, glancing in their direction a few times as he adjusted the fit of his baseball cap.

Phelps will compete in eight events, three of which are relays.

"I'm looking to do something different that the sport has never seen," he said a few days ago in Singapore.

At last year's world championships in Australia, Phelps won seven events and was denied the chance for an eighth victory when a teammate was disqualified from the preliminaries of a relay the Americans were heavily favored to win.

Dara Torres, who at 41 has qualified for two events in Beijing, was one of the few swimmers to speak in the rush to board the bus.

"It's finally sunk in," said Torres, who will compete in her fifth Olympics. "I am very excited to be here. I just want to get to the pool and start swimming a little bit."

MICHAEL PHELPS

AGE: 23

WHAT HE'S DONE:

- He won six gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

- He holds the record in the 200-meter freestyle, the 200 and 400 individual medleys, and the 200 butterfly.

- He's broken 25 world records.

WHAT HE WANTS TO DO:

- He's aiming to surpass the seven-gold effort of Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich games.

WHAT HE WILL DO: He will compete in eight events:


INDIVIDUAL EVENTS

- 200 freestyle

- 200 individual medley

- 400 individual medley

- 100 butterfly

- 200 butterfly

RELAY EVENTS

- 400 freestyle

- 800 freestyle

- 400 medley

-- Associated Press


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